It has been brought to my attention that The Erotic Review, a well-known escort review board based in the United States, has changed its ratings structure. Before the change, sex workers had to be known to offer specific sexual acts if they want to be rated higher than a seven out of ten in the services rating. The new guideline from The Erotic Review stipulates that these specific services must now be performed “during a session” to count towards their service score. To be clear: these services cannot just be within a sex worker’s menu offering; instead, they must actually be performed for the client during the specific session that he is reviewing for it to count. The effect of this change will negatively impact the working conditions for sex workers. Please allow me to explain.
Many clients, especially those living within countries where sex work is fully and/or partially criminalized, peruse review boards as part of their research in selecting a sex worker. As such, the information contained within them matter. Reviews, comments from other clients, and, most importantly, the ratings system all influence the perceptions of potential clients. Within the ratings system, there seems to be a mentality amongst many clients that the higher the rating then the better the sex worker. For many clients, a ratings score is short-hand for whom they think proffers a better experience. To them, numbers absolutely matter.
This obsession for a high ratings score has, in turn, created a necessity amongst sex workers to be highly rated. To be accorded a 10/10 rating is considered prestigious, resulting in countless new business whereas to only be rated a 7/10 is considered unimpressive, resulting in lost business. As such, sex workers have become numbers-obsessed, so much so that there are even some sex workers offering services which are outside their personal comfort level in order to achieve higher ratings because they fear and/or cannot afford the repercussions of a lower ratings score. This is why many sex workers consider review boards to be coercive.
The new stipulations from The Erotic Review, further reduces choice and consent because sex workers must now provide each and every higher risk service with each and every client in a given session, lest they suffer the repercussions of a negative ratings score. In real terms, this means an inability to decline service for poor hygiene and/or aggressive behavior. Instead, the policy is simply: do the service with everyone or suffer the consequences. In my opinion, this is too much to ask. Sex workers should always have the last word in whether or not to engage in a given service. They should never be punished for saying no to a client.
Furthermore, from the perspective of clients, these new stipulations will ultimately make the engagement more mechanical as there is now pressing need for sex workers to check-off all crucial services to achieve a high score – a score that many clients, themselves, deem essential when selecting a sex worker.
Lastly, I have often heard from clients that they want to be treated as more than “just clients.” As such, I ask clients to consider how review boards treat sex workers. By evaluating sex workers solely upon a checklist of physical criteria, not chemistry, friendliness, or personality, then are we not being treated as though we are “just sex workers.”
Perhaps, it is time to reconsider the criteria of reviews. I assure you, sex workers are more than a list of services. We are unique and dynamic individuals. Please treat us as such.